Andy Pettitte Returns to the New York Yankees Vs Seattle Mariners
Andy Pettitte returns to the New York Yankees pitching rotation after another short-lived goodbye.
The bright lights of New York are once again calling Andy Pettitte home when he takes the mound against Kevin Millwood on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. As a 23-year-old lifelong Yankees fan, Andy Pettitte was a boyhood idol of mine, a short notch below Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera on my list of Yankee heroes for my generation. His playoff performances are still dear to me, but his HGH confession and departure to Houston twice broke my heart. I welcome Pettitte back with open arms, but worry he’ll only hurt me again as he closes in on the end of a strange career.
Andy first left the Yankees, forsaking eternal pinstripe glory and leaving a generation of bewildered fans behind, to be closer to his family in Houston in 2004. Ultimately, he returned (after things didn’t pan out with Roger Clemens in Texas) to deliver another World Series to the Yankees and one last All Star appearance before retiring at the end of the 2010 season. However, after a full year away from baseball, Andy Pettitte is back in pinstripes, rejoining a rotation that is riddled with injuries and desperately needs stability. He immediately gives them depth, even if only in having five recognizable names to start games with.
Pettitte is best known for his many playoff successes. His 19 wins are the most in baseball history and his role in the Yankees dynasty in the late 90s is undeniably impressive. Were it not for steroid use, Pettitte’s 240 wins combined with clutch pitching and playoff success would likely have him on the bubble for the Hall of Fame. Instead, Pettitte’s name is one of the many confusing Cooperstown cases of the steroid era in baseball. His comeback may get him to the 250-win plateau, further distance his name from the impending Roger Clemens trial, and further bury his HGH use – but will it help the Yankees?
In Pettitte’s first start, he faces a pitcher in Kevin Millwood that has no place in baseball anymore. Millwood is 0-4 with an ERA near six for the Seattle Mariners this year. At home, it’s a perfect game for Andy Pettitte to rejoin the Yankees. New York should win the game even with a mediocre start from Pettitte against one of the weaker lineups in baseball – particularly with Millwood on the hill. However, as the season progresses it’s hard to imagine Pettitte being all that dominant. After a tremendous start to the 2010 season, Pettitte succumbed to injury and faded down the stretch. He changes speeds well and locates his breaking pitches, which is all a lefty really needs to be successful, but mediocrity is likely all we can expect from the fading star.
Ultimately, Pettitte is a familiar and welcomed face. He’ll provide veteran leadership, a humble presence, and a calming charisma. On the mound, anything near an ERA of four and relative consistency will be a plus. The return of Andy Pettitte can only be a good thing for the Yankees, though it’s strange to see yet another legend struggle with retirement. At the ripe age of 39, one has to wonder what the now-crafty lefty has in the tank, and what he has left to prove. Perhaps 250 wins is gleaming in the not-too-distant horizon, pulling Pettitte back to baseball. Either way, I’m glad he’s back.
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